Anxiety grows over the societal effects of the AI boom

Human vs artificial intelligence concept. Business job applicant man competing with cartoon robots sitting in line for a job interview

A cluster of stories have added to the sense of foreboding about the rapid progress of artificial intelligence technology.

Geoffrey Hinton, who is credited with developing some of the most important techniques at the heart of modern AI, is retiring from his role at Google. Having done so, he now seems determined to highlight his concerns about AI. An early manifestation of this is an interview granted to MIT Technology Review, headlined ‘Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build’.

“I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things [neural networks] are going to be more intelligent than us,” said Hinton. “I think they’re very close to it now and they will be much more intelligent than us in the future. How do we survive that?” He then somewhat clumsily illustrates the danger of this power falling into the ‘wrong’ hands by cherry-picking a few personal political bugbears.

A day earlier, Bloomberg interviewed IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, who said he expects to pause hiring for jobs that AI could do. He seems to have back-office and non-customer-facing roles, such as HR, in mind, and it seems around 7,800 IBM jobs could be replaced by AI in the coming years.

Bloomberg followed that bombshell with the news that Samsung is banning its employees from using generative AI tools like Chat GPT on data security grounds. Unsurprisingly, some employees have been feeding sensitive code into the tools, presumably with the intent of optimising it, and Samsung is worried about what happens to that data once it’s in the hands of companies like Microsoft of Google.

This all comes just days after a UK MP wrote to its government’s technology secretary to urge the UK to take a lead on the development of ‘safe’ AI, without defining what that might look like. He got a tepid response, agreeing that’s a great idea in principle, but actually doing something about it is another matter. Lots of alarm bells are being rung about AI but we seem no closer to a consensus on how best to proceed.


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One comment

  1. Avatar Will 03/05/2023 @ 9:43 am

    Imagine war-bots. That’s where progressive A.I. will eventually lead to. Just like nuclear bombs, it’s too late to pull the brakes. We need a better solution.

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